Donald Trump.  Picture: REUTERS
Donald Trump. Picture: REUTERS

Washington — US president-elect Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Russia had never tried to sway his actions and blamed US intelligence agencies for news reports that Moscow had compiled compromising information on him.

In a series of Twitter posts, he accused intelligence agencies of taking "one last shot" at him by leaking the information. "Are we living in Nazi Germany?" he asked.

Trump is set to give his first formal news conference later on Wednesday, where he is expected to give more insight into his plans to boost economic growth.

Trump slammed as "fake news" the reports that classified documents presented to him last week by the heads of four US intelligence agencies included claims that Russian intelligence operatives have compromising information about him.

"Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!" Trump wrote in one of the Twitter posts.

Trump pointed to the Kremlin’s denials of the reports on the dossier that emerged late on Tuesday.

"Russia just said the unverified report paid for by political opponents is ‘A COMPLETE AND TOTAL FABRICATION, UTTER NONSENSE.’ Very unfair!" he wrote on Twitter.

The Kremlin said on Wednesday it was "total nonsense" that Russian officials had assembled a file of compromising information on Trump.

Reince Priebus, who will be Trump’s White House chief of staff, called the Russian dossier report "phoney baloney garbage".

Even before the reports, Russia had been likely to take centre stage during Trump’s first formal session with reporters since he won the November 8 presidential election.

The Republican president-elect has long said he hopes to improve ties with Moscow, but this effort will come under intense scrutiny after US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia used cyber attacks and other tactics to try to tilt the presidential election in his favour over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

At the same time in Washington, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, former Exxon Mobil chief executive Rex Tillerson, will likely be grilled at his Senate confirmation hearing over his long business relationship with Russian officials including President Vladimir Putin.

There was an unpredictable element to Trump’s news conference, given his repeated criticism of the US news media and his belief that many news organisations favoured Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump, a New York real estate developer, has been under pressure to separate himself from his global business operations to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest once he succeeds President Barack Obama on January 20.

After initially declaring there was no law that prohibited him from maintaining control of his business while serving as president, Trump switched gears in December and said legal documents were being crafted "which take me completely out of business operations". Trump has said his two adult sons, Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump, will manage his businesses and no new deals will be done during his time in office, but has offered few details.

He has not said he would divest from his companies, a step some ethics experts say he should take. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, announced plans on Monday to divest much of his own business holdings in preparation for taking a senior advisory role in the White House.

Russia Questions

While North Korea, Syria, Iran, China, tax reform and border security could well come up at the news conference, questions about Russia are likely to dominate the session.

Trump has faced persistent questions about Russia throughout the past year given his reluctance to criticise Putin and his desire to improve US relations with Moscow, including working together to defeat Islamic State militants.

His stance has rattled traditional US allies such as Nato countries and many US foreign policy experts who consider Russia a geopolitical adversary.

Trump has left open how he would respond to the Russian hacking that US intelligence agencies said was aimed at disrupting the presidential campaign.

Moscow, which branded the report baseless and amateurish, has repeatedly rejected the accusations, over which Obama last month expelled 35 Russian diplomats allegedly involved in the espionage and due to "harassment" of US diplomats in Russia.

US intelligence chiefs briefed him on Russian involvement in the election last Friday and he has accepted the fact that it happened.

Two US officials said late on Tuesday allegations on the Russian dossier, which one called "unsubstantiated", were contained in a two-page memo appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election that US intelligence officials presented to Trump and Obama last week.

Reuters

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